Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Emergency Programme said that the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours was largely due to a change in how cases are now being diagnosed and reported. For example, a clinically-confirmed case is now valid after a chest scan, rather than requiring a laboratory confirmation.
China on Thursday reported 254 new deaths and a spike in virus cases of 15,152, after the hardest-hit province of Hubei applied a new classification system that broadens the scope of diagnoses for the outbreak, which has spread to more than 20 countries.
Japan also reported its first death, a woman in her 80s who had been hospitalized since early February. Two other places outside mainland China — Hong Kong and the Philippines — have previously confirmed one death each.